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Euro inflation jumps sharply to 3.0%

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(BRUSSELS) - Eurozone inflation soared to 3.0 percent in September, official figures showed Friday, just days before outgoing European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet chairs his last policy meeting.

The EU said the annual rate of price rises across the 17-nation currency area in September was 3.0 percent, a dramatic rise from 2.5 percent in August after Brussels said it had peaked, and well above the ECB's target of below but close to 2.0 percent.

An increase was expected after major economy Germany announced a spike to 2.8 percent but the figure was still a surprise just two weeks after the European Commission said inflation "seems to have peaked in the second quarter of 2011."

Inflation in the non-euro area is also running high. In neighbouring Britain, the Bank of England, expected to launch a new round of stimulus under "quantitative easing," or printing money to bolster a slowing economy, has forecast inflation will hit 5.0 percent this year.

Paris-based analyst Clemente De Lucia of BNP Paribas said that available data at the national level, ahead of the release of detailed eurozone analysis by Eurostat in mid-October, showed inflation pushing up in the biggest euro economies.

He highlighted a significant rise in Italy, partly due to changes in statistical methods, and also a "sharp rebound" in Germany for core clothing prices.

However, he maintained that "the medium-term inflation profile is rather benign ... The downturn in the international environment has eased commodity prices, which are now expected to be lower than previously expected.

"Consequently, we should see an easing of energy price inflation, the largest contributor to headline inflation in past months."

He tipped a headline rate of 2.8 percent for this year as a whole and an easing back to the ECB's target level next year.

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